CSBlogs and Blogging as an employability tool

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This is a post to proselytise the virtues of blogging with respect to getting your first job (and possibly ones to follow). I also want to reintroduce CSBlogs http://csblogs.com/ to the Hull Computer Science students. More on both below. The picture is unrelated but begs the question, Who’s a pretty tabby tiger?

Getting a good degree is famously only one of the ingredients needed to secure a job. Granted, it is quite an important part (some might say crucial), but you can do more to feather your nest and attract employers.

You should all absolutely have some kind of online portfolio of your work. This can include discussions of pieces of coursework that you have done - best when you have polished it a little, and is even better if you can do the same with extracurricular projects.

Another thing to consider to improve your online profile is the humble Blog. When you apply for jobs, you typically create your CV, hone it to show you off in the best light, and craft a cover letter that together with your CV is perfectly tailored for the role that is being advertised. That is great, and you still have to do that, but everybody else is also doing that and the employers are also aware of the polishing process. Your Blog however, puts you in to a smaller set, and it is also not really possible to fake a collection of work that you have put together over many months or years. It will often show off many of your qualities, be it an interest in software development, a passion for puzzle solving, or just simply your ability to communicate with an audience; these are all valuable to the employers’ decision making.

Although I mentioned audience above, this is not something that you need to worry about. You are doing this for yourself, though others may enjoy it or find it useful. You can use it to document progress on your projects, you can use it to rubber duck your way through problems. A while ago, I wrote something about my experiments with eGPUs, and some random stranger on the internet left a comment on how to dramatically improve the performance, which was great.

Getting in to the habit of doing it will make it easier. Try setting an achievable target for frequency. It doesn’t have to be everyday. It doesn’t have to be thousand word posts.

The platform is not important either. It could be self-hosted and administered. It could be using the blogging platform that you wrote yourself. It could be a hosted Wordpress solution. There are paid for and free options. I am currently playing with static site generation hosted on Github pages, which is free. It really doesn’t matter what you use. What matters is that you are doing it.

When you do create your Blog (as obviously you will all rush out and make one) or if you have been doing it for a while, you may be interested in http://csblogs.com/. This is a blog aggregation site that was created and is maintained by some of our alumni. The idea is that like-minded groups can have a one stop Computer Science blog fest. This can be great for encouraging each other and honing your craft.

You need to have a RSS blog feed in order to sign up and once you do, your application needs to be approved which I can do, but the system doesn’t notify me so it is best if you email me so that I can do it.

I am looking forward to seeing you all there.

PS. If you are looking for a topic for your debut post maybe you can blog about how you are excitedly looking forward to the upcoming Three Thing Game event (http://threethinggame.com).